Support for self-employed extended as England prepares for lockdown 2.0

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak (PA Wire)
17:28pm, Mon 02 Nov 2020
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The support available for self-employed people whose earnings have been hit by coronavirus will increase as a result of England’s second lockdown.

– What is the self-employment income support scheme?

The SEISS provides grants to self-employed people whose businesses have been hit by the pandemic, in the same way the furlough scheme protected employed people whose work dried up.

– What has changed?

Less than two weeks ago Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the support available under the three-month grants would double from 20% to 40% of profits, up to a maximum of £3,750.

As the coronavirus situation has deteriorated, Boris Johnson’s Government has been forced to announce a lockdown in England from November 5 to December 2.

With the furlough scheme, paying 80% of employees’ wages, extended until December, support for the self-employed has also been made more generous.

The portion of the grant for November will cover 80% of profits, meaning the November-January payment will be at 55% of profits, a maximum of £5,160.

– Who can apply?

The support is available across the UK, even though the lockdown announced by the Prime Minister only applies in England.

Eligible people who are self-employed or members of partnerships must have had their business hit by reduced demand or be temporarily prevented from trading as a result of the pandemic.

The window for making claims has been brought forward from December 14 to November 30.

– What will the scheme cost?

The Treasury estimates the November-January package will cost £4.5 billion, up £1.4 billion from the 40% scheme.

– What have people said about the increase?

The Chancellor said the Government was responding to the “rapidly changing health picture” and the increased payment will help people “get through the months ahead”.

Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, welcomed the move but said there were still “significant gaps in the scheme”.

“Many small company directors continue to go without support, it’s long past time to sort this problem,” he said.

Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said the 80% rate “will only cover a few weeks of the grant, meaning many people could still face hardship” and “there are lots of self-employed workers who will not qualify for this support”.

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